If you think about your lymphatic system, what comes to mind? Swollen tonsils or lymph nodes? How about physical activity? Did you know that your body needs physical activity in order for the lymph system to function properly?
With too many of our good friends battling cancer lately, I’ve learned a lot about the lymphatic system that really surprised me. This post is inspired by my friend Brooke, thanks for the great ideas Brooke!
Unlike your main circulatory system which has a heart to pump your blood, the lymphatic system only circulates in one direction, up toward your neck. It also does not have its own pump, but relies on your physical activity to keep the lymph fluid moving. You need to MOVE for a healthy lymph system.
How Your Lymphatic System Works
Your lymphatic system is a subset of your circulatory system running along side your vascular system. The lymph system acts as a freeway, transporting white blood cells between lymph nodes into the bones via a clear liquid called lymph fluid. Lymph fluid carries white blood cells helping to eliminate toxins, waste and pathogens from your body. Your Lymph nodes then filter the lymph fluid before recirculation.
The human body has between 600 and 700 lymph nodes including your tonsils and spleen. If you still have your tonsils you’re one of the lucky ones! Turns out they are one of your body’s first line of defense against pathogens. If yours were taken out at a kid, not to worry, other lymph nodes have taken over.
If your child’s doctor is recommending a tonsillectomy, consider completely removing dairy from their diet first. There is mounting evidence to show that dairy allergies may be a major cause of tonsillitis and ear infections in children. Once dairy is removed from the diet these issues usually clear up.
How Can You Help Your Lymph System Function Optimally?
Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and reducing your stress levels will all help your lymph system. But more than that, you need to MOVE your body to move your lymph fluid.
7 Tips to help you MOVE your Lymph System
- Breathe — Moving your diaphragm via breathing exercises including deep belly breathing or pranayama help your lymph fluid to circulate. Try these breathing exercises from Dr. Weil. Meditation can also help to eliminate stress which helps your lymph system to circulate.
- Jump! — Rebound or jumping on a trampoline is one of the best ways to keep your lymph fluid moving. Don’t have a tramp? Try this exercise: While standing, lift up on your toes, then bounce your heels down hard so that they jar a bit. Repeat heel bouncing for about a minute. Try doing this 2-3 times a day. This is also good for fighting osteoporosis.
- Dance! — Try a Zumba class, or put on your fav dance tunes and have your own dance party in you living room, your office, your kitchen, where ever you are. Be sure to raise your arms overhead to get that lymph fluid moving. Don’t like to dance? Just walk and swing your arms for great lymph benefits too.
- Practice Yoga — Holding yoga poses makes your muscles contract and release, which helps increase your circulation and in turn helps your lymph fluid to flow. Inversions like Down Dog or anything with your head below your heart are especially useful in helping pump your lymph fluid. Laying on the floor with your legs up the wall is also great for your lymph system.
- Dry Brushing — Brush your skin for a radiant glow and to help your lymph fluid flow. Kris Carr offers good dry brushing techniques on her Crazy Sexy Wellness site. Or treat yourself to a lymphatic massage.
- Standing Workstation — Standing at your desk all day helps to eliminate lymphatic stagnation caused by sitting. Try this great adjustable standing desk by Workez.
- Hydrotherapy — Hydrotherapy, or alternating hot/cold water in the shower helps to constrict and expand your blood vessels and circulate your lymph fluid in the process. End each shower with a blast of cold.
The benefits of a healthy lymph system are numerous, including more radiant, clear skin as well as helping to boost your immune system to better fight cancers and other infectious diseases.
Learning this info has definitely motivated me to MOVE my body. How about you? Please leave a comment to let us know your favorite way to MOVE your body.